Musk, you see, wants to build a series of tunnels underneath Los Angeles in an effort to alleviate the city’s admittedly horrendous traffic woes. To raise funds and awareness for this plan, Musk has decided to make and sell futuristic-looking flamethrowers.
Another year, another big surplus in California — and another set of disappointed lawmakers and lobbyists whose new spending programs were rejected by Gov. Jerry Brown.
This is Brown’s final year of his fourth and last term as governor, and he has presided over a remarkable transformation of the state’s finances. Inheriting a $27-billion deficit in 2011, he’s leaving his successor with a projected surplus of several billion dollars and three (count ’em, three) reserves with billions more, including a new fund dedicated to safety net programs.
But Brown hasn’t stopped the state from spending larger and larger sums every year. To the contrary, spending from the state’s general fund has grown more than 50% during his eight years in office. Throw in the dollars from Washington and state special funds and the growth is even higher — more than 65%.
It’s no secret that President Trump has contempt for what he likes to call the “fake” news media, including the capital-F “Failing New York Times.” Journalists also remember that Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions mused last year about revisiting a policy instituted by former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. placing limits on acquisition of information from journalists.
"We respect the important role that the press plays, and we'll give them respect,” Sessions said, “but it is not unlimited.”
So it’s natural to suspect a seismic shift in policy behind the seizure of phone and email records of a New York Times reporter, Ali Watkins, in connection with the investigation of former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James A. Wolfe. Wolfe is accused of lying to the FBI about contacts with reporters when he was questioned during a leaks investigation.
If you’ve been to a national park in the past few years, you probably have a good sense of how crowded they can get. As we move into the summer travel season, expect it to get even worse as the parks’ popularity continues to rise while staffing slides and the deferred maintenance list expands.
High Country News lays out the problem here, but in a nutshell, the parks are getting overwhelmed — as are the staffs. Not to mention the backlog in maintenance projects, which reached $11.6 billion at the end of the last fiscal year, up slightly from two years ago.
Editor's note: This article was originally published July 21, 2017. We are resurfacing it from the archives because it includes the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and links to reporting resources for journalists.
First President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Arizona sheriff. Then right wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and the late boxer Jack Johnson (the latter’s cause was championed by actor Sylvester Stallone). Next he talked about clemency for Martha Stewart, an old friend, and a sentence reduction for corrupt former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. At Kim Kardashian’s request, he pardoned Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old woman in prison for life for a non-violent drug conviction. Now, on Friday, the president said he was considering pardoning the late boxer Muhammad Ali, who was convicted of draft evasion in 1967 during the Vietnam War.
Trump is in love with his pardon power, and, on one level, who can blame him? When he was first elected, he seemed surprised to learn that the power of the presidency was severely limited. To build a wall with Mexico, it turned out you needed billions of dollars from Congress. To ban people from the country, you had to convince the courts that doing so was constitutional. For some things, you even needed to beg for help from the likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
So needless to say, the pardon power is very appealing. The Constitution gives the president virtually unchecked authority to offer amnesties, commutations and full or conditional pardons for federal crimes, saying only that the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” No one gets to second guess it. The Senate doesn’t have to approve; the courts don’t weigh in.
In its latest effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act — and in the process, raise premiums for many Americans — the Trump administration is urging a federal judge in Texas to throw out the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions.
In other words, the administration wants insurers to be able to deny coverage to the people most in need of it, or to charge them considerably higher premiums than they’re allowed to charge today.
This is jaw-dropping. Even Republicans who’ve complained about Obamacare have been loath to undo the protections for people with preexisting conditions who are not covered by large employers’ health plans. That’s because the public supports them, and unequivocally so.
The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!
Never mind that Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself from the investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign because he played a major role in said campaign. His personal views about whether there was collusion were irrelevant.
Trump’s continued attacks on his attorney general for failing to be a team player remind me of a mostly forgotten campaign promise by Jimmy Carter when he ran for president in 1976.
Ralph Peters, who offered regular military analysis on Fox News for a decade, finally concluded what many of us had long ago realized — and, having done so, he quit the network in disgust in March. On Wednesday, he went on CNN to explain himself further: The network, he said, was doing a “great, grave disservice to our country” and had become a “destructive propaganda machine” for President Trump.
On Thursday, Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox News anchor, said that Peters’ experience mirrored her own. “I too was upset about the blurring of the lines between propaganda and journalism,” she said, according to the New York Times.
Both former Fox regulars are right, of course. Fox has become a loyal Trump mouthpiece, a purveyor of conspiracy theories, an attack dog for the president in his effort to undermine mainstream institutions.